9 things to do in Thanjavur

9 Things To Do in Thanjavur in 2024

Discover the vibrant cultural tapestry of the historic city with this comprehensive guide to Things To Do in Thanjavur. From exploring majestic temples to immersing yourself in traditional arts, uncover the hidden gems and must-see attractions that make Thanjavur a captivating destination.

Are you captivated by the grandeur of Indian architecture, particularly the awe-inspiring temples and historical monuments? If so, Thanjavur belongs at the top of your bucket list. Renowned for its remarkable landmarks, this city boasts the UNESCO-recognized Brihadeeshwara Temple, an architectural masterpiece unmatched by any other monument or temple.

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PIN for later reference – Things To Do in Thanjavur

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About Thanjavur

Renowned for the iconic 11th-century Brihadeeshwara Temple, Thanjavur is a city nestled in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a hub for the majestic temples the Great Living Cholas constructed, scattered throughout its surroundings. Referred to as Tanjore colloquially, Thanjavur embraces various cultural treasures like Bharatnatyam, paintings, and dolls.

The ideal time to experience Thanjavur’s charm is during the winter, from October to February, when the weather is pleasant. Conversely, the remaining months tend to be uncomfortably hot. With just one or two days, visitors can thoroughly explore Thanjavur’s rich heritage and cultural allure.

How to Get to Thanjavur?

By Public Transport

  • Bus – Thanjavur enjoys excellent bus connectivity with Chennai and Bangalore, courtesy of government and private bus operators. For the latest bus schedules and bookings, check the Redbus website.
  • Train – Additionally, Thanjavur hosts its railway station, the Thanjavur Junction, located approximately 1 kilometre from the city centre. For train routes, timings, and reservations, visit the IRCTC website.

By Road

Thanjavur lies approximately 400 kilometres from Bangalore, with a road journey typically spanning around 8 hours.

Compared to Bangalore, Thanjavur is closer to Chennai, about 350 kilometres away, with a road trip taking approximately 6 hours.

By Air

The nearest airport to Thanjavur is located in Tiruchirapalli. This international airport boasts excellent connectivity to major cities across India and destinations in Southeast Asia. Situated approximately 60 kilometres from Thanjavur, various airlines, including Air India, serve Tiruchirapalli Airport.

Transportation within Thanjavur City

The optimal mode of transportation within Thanjavur city is either by auto-rickshaw (locally known as tuk-tuk) or public bus.

Negotiating fares with auto-rickshaw drivers is advisable, as they often quote high prices without a meter system. For instance, a short distance of just one kilometre may cost around INR 100. In comparison, auto-rickshaw fares in Bangalore typically start at around INR 30 for a distance of 2 kilometres, regulated by meters.

Notably, female travellers enjoy free travel in public buses, as no fare is collected for them.

9 Things To Do in Thanjavur

Visit the UNESCO Heritage Site Brihadeeshwara Temple

Part of the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Living Chola temples, the Brihadeshwara Temple stands as a magnificent Hindu shrine devoted to Lord Shiva. Commissioned by the illustrious Chola emperor Rajaraja I between 1003 and 1010 CE, this temple complex encompasses numerous shrines and deities, including a structure crafted in the Hoysala architectural style.

The temple harbours an aura of mystique, with several intriguing tales woven into its history. Among the most captivating legends is the temple’s purported lack of shadow, even at the peak of noon. Another enigma surrounds the construction material, as the entire edifice is fashioned from granite sourced from a location approximately 50 kilometres away from Thanjavur, where it was not naturally found.

Opening its doors from 6 AM to 8:30 PM, the temple experience is most enjoyable in the morning hours, preferably before 11 AM, to avoid the sweltering heat that prevails later in the day.

Engaging a knowledgeable guide enhances the visit, offering insights into the temple’s rich narratives and historical significance. Guides typically charge around INR 600 per hour, providing invaluable context to the temple’s intricate tales.

Visit the UNESCO heritage site Brihadeshwara temple - Thanjavur
Visit the UNESCO heritage site Brihadeshwara temple

Go Back in Time at Aranmanai or the Maratha Palace

The Aranmanai Maratha Palace, serving as the official residence of the Bhosle family, who reigned over the Thanjavur region from 1674 to 1855, holds a significant historical legacy. Originally named Sivagangai Fort, this palace was constructed by the Thanjavur Nayaks in 1535. Within its expansive complex are various structures, including museums showcasing artifacts, remnants of antiquity, the illustrious Dharbar Hall, and a striking bell tower.

Open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM, the palace observes a brief closure during the lunch hour. Admission to the palace requires a fee of INR 50 for Indian nationals and INR 100 for foreign visitors.

Please note that using mobile phones and cameras within the premises incurs an additional charge.

Go back in time at Aranmanai or the Maratha Palace - Thanjavur
Go back in time at Aranmanai or the Maratha Palace

Watch a Bharatnatyam Performance

Thanjavur holds the esteemed title of being the birthplace of Bharatnatyam, the revered traditional and classical dance form. With roots dating back to the ancient Natyasastra by the sage Bharat Muni, Bharatnatyam finds its most authentic expression in the temples of Thanjavur. The dance style embodies a deep sense of tradition and devotion to the deities, making it a truly mesmerizing experience.

While exploring Thanjavur, seize the opportunity to witness a Bharatnatyam performance firsthand. Engage with local dance schools or classes to inquire about scheduled performances, allowing you to immerse yourself in this revered art form’s captivating rhythms and graceful movements.

Walk Around the City to See Old Monuments

Embarking on a stroll through a city is often the most enriching way to uncover its essence, as it provides an opportunity to observe the locals and absorb the ambience of the surroundings.

In Thanjavur, this timeless approach to exploration is advantageous, given the plethora of ancient buildings and landmarks that are silent witnesses to centuries of history. Each step through the city’s streets unveils a tapestry of tales, offering insight into Thanjavur’s enduring character and heritage.

Walk around the city to see old monuments - Thanjavur
Walk around the city to see old monuments

Visit the Churches

Amidst a city renowned for its devotion to temples, stumbling upon local churches was a delightful surprise. Exploring these historic churches provided a fascinating glimpse into a distinct architectural style, offering a refreshing contrast to the grandeur of the temples. Witnessing the unique blend of religious and cultural influences woven into Thanjavur’s diverse architectural landscape was a truly enriching experience.

Visit the churches - Thanjavur
Visit the churches

Watch the Dying Art of Veena Making

Crafted from exquisite jackfruit wood, Thanjavur has earned renown for its distinguished tradition of Veena making. Across generations, local families have honed their skills in crafting these revered instruments, ensuring the artistry is preserved and passed down to future artisans. While the number of master craftsmen has dwindled to as few as 15 families, witnessing their meticulous craftsmanship firsthand remains a cherished delight.

Watch the dying art of Veena making - Thanjavur
Watch the dying art of Veena making

Indulge in Chettinadu Lunch

Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Chettinadu cuisine is renowned for using freshly ground spices known as masalas. Originally predominantly vegetarian, this culinary tradition now encompasses a wide array of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. In Thanjavur, numerous restaurants proudly serve authentic Chettinad cuisine, allowing visitors to savour the rich flavours and aromatic spices that define this traditional fare.

Observe the Artists Painting the Thanjavur Paintings

Originating around 1600 AD, Thanjavur painting is a distinctive artistic tradition celebrated for its vibrant hues and intricate use of gold foils, particularly embellishing the jewellery depicted in the artworks. Predominantly centered on Hindu deities, gods, goddesses, and saints, these paintings hold cultural significance and are revered for their spiritual allure.

Recognized as a Geographical Indication by the Government of India, Thanjavur City is a captivating hub where visitors can witness skilled artists and acquire these exceptional paintings directly from the artisans.

Buy the Dancing Thanjavur Dolls

Yet another exquisite gem of artistry found in Thanjavur is the captivating Thanjavur dancing dolls. Crafted from terracotta material, these dolls feature charming bobblehead dancing heads, adding a whimsical touch to their allure.

Recognized as a Geographical Indication by the Government of India, these dolls hold a special place in the city’s cultural heritage. Bringing home one of these dolls promises to be a delightful addition to any souvenir collection, infusing your space with Thanjavur’s unique charm and craftsmanship.

Buy the dancing Thanjavur dolls - Thanjavur
Buy the dancing Thanjavur Dolls

Where to Stay in Thanjavur?

When planning your stay in Thanjavur, you’ll find various accommodation options to suit your preferences and budget. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Heritage Hotels: Experience the grandeur of Thanjavur’s history by staying in one of its heritage hotels. These properties often offer luxurious amenities and a glimpse into the city’s royal past.
  2. Budget Hotels and Guesthouses: For travellers on a budget, several budget hotels and guesthouses are scattered throughout the city. These establishments provide comfortable accommodations at affordable rates.
  3. Resorts: If you want to unwind and relax amidst tranquil surroundings, consider staying at one of Thanjavur’s resorts. Many resorts offer spa facilities, swimming pools, and lush gardens for a rejuvenating experience.
  4. Homestays: For a more immersive experience, opt for a homestay where you can stay with a local family and learn about their culture and traditions firsthand.
  5. Business Hotels: Thanjavur also has options for business travellers, including hotels with modern amenities such as conference rooms and high-speed internet access.

For those seeking luxurious accommodations in Thanjavur, there are several options that offer top-notch amenities and unparalleled hospitality:

  1. Svatma Heritage Hotel: This boutique hotel blends traditional South Indian architecture with modern luxury. Set in a restored heritage mansion, Svatma offers elegantly designed rooms, a spa, yoga classes, and a fine dining restaurant serving authentic local cuisine.
  2. Ideal River View Resort: Located on the banks of the Cauvery River, this resort offers luxurious cottages with private balconies overlooking the river. Guests can enjoy amenities like a swimming pool, spa, and multi-cuisine restaurant.
  3. Tanjore Hi: This upscale hotel boasts spacious rooms and suites with contemporary décor and modern amenities. The hotel features a rooftop swimming pool, fitness centre, and multiple dining options, serving a variety of cuisines.
  4. Gnanam Hotel: This luxury hotel offers opulent rooms and suites with plush furnishings and modern amenities. Guests can unwind at the rooftop swimming pool, rejuvenate at the spa, and dine at the hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant.

Is Thanjavur Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Thanjavur offers a safe and welcoming environment for solo female travellers. Having personally explored the city alone, I can attest to the beautiful experience it provides. I encountered no issues or concerns throughout my time there, with locals generally minding their business and displaying friendliness. However, as with any destination, it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings and exercise caution, particularly during nighttime.

If you’re new to solo travel or seeking guidance on beginning your journey, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) for solo travellers. These insights can provide valuable tips and reassurance as you embark on solo adventures.

Closing Notes

Thanjavur is one of the most captivating destinations I’ve enjoyed exploring in Tamil Nadu. Bursting with culture, art, and history, the city effortlessly blends old-world charm with modern traditions. My experience in Thanjavur left me in awe of its rich heritage and vibrant atmosphere. I recommend adding this enchanting city to your itinerary when visiting Tamil Nadu.

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9 Things To Do in Thanjavur in 2024
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    PIN for later reference – Things To Do in Thanjavur

    PIN for later reference - 9 things to do in Thanjavur
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